A native of New Zealand, Burke was the former director of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, and former assistant director and chief curator at the Wellington City Art Gallery. He was also the commissioning curator for the New Zealand pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2001 and 2005, and a contributing curator for the SITE Santa Fe International Biennale in 2008. He is the co-curator (with Peggy Gale) of the upcoming 2013 Biennale de Montréal.
Canadian audiences, however, will perhaps best know Burke as the sometimes-contentious former director of the Power Plant in Toronto where he curated a number of critically received exhibitions, including solo showings by Michael Snow, Thomas Hirschhorn, Ian Wallace, Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby, Peter Campus, Simon Starling, Candice Breitz, Scott Lyall and Derek Sullivan. Burke held the Power Plant post from 2005 to 2011.
“The opportunity to help realize the vision of the Remai was simply too attractive to pass up,” says Burke in the announcement press release. “It is a rare chance to be able to work with visionary donors, a go-ahead city, an ambitious and committed Board, and a great architect to establish a major institution from the ground up. This is an important moment for the new gallery and Canadian art.”