The Philharmonic Hall, opening like a great wood-panelled seashell, has an intimate atmosphere but poor acoustic qualities. The smaller hall "Kleiner Konzertsaal" offers slightly better acoustics for chamber music. The Gasteig comprises the Carl Orff Hall with a stage for drama, the Richard Strauss Conservatory, the Black Box studio theatre, the Münchner Volkshochschule (Adult Education Centre) for further education, various cafés and shops, e.g. the 'Pappnase' (cardboard nose) offering a selection of dramatic requisites, and the central branch of the Municipal Library with its extensive stock of books and periodicals.
When famed conductor Leonard Bernstein was asked on his opinion of the hall, he remarked, "Burn it." 
The estate behind the Gasteig was until its demolition in 1979 the location of the Bürgerbräukeller, stage for the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch and the 1939 Hitler assassination attempt by Georg Elser. A showcase visible from outside of the Gasteig commemorates Elsers history.