In this study, we compared the microbial communities colonising ancient cave wall paintings of the Mogao Grottoes exhibiting signs of biodeterioration. Ten samples were collected from five different caves built during different time periods and analysed using culture-independent and culture-dependent methods. The clone library results revealed high microbial diversity, including the bacterial groups Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria, Cyanobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Gemmatimonadetes, Planctomycetes, and Chloroflexi and the fungal groups Euascomycetes, Dothideomycetes, Eurotiomycetes, Sordariomycetes, Saccharomycetes, Plectomycetes, Pezizomycetes, Zygomycota, and Basidiomycota. The bacterial community structures differed among the samples, with no consistent temporal or spatial trends. However, the fungal community diversity index correlated with the building time of the caves independent of environmental factors (e.g., temperature or relative humidity). The enrichment cultures revealed that many culturable strains were highly resistant to various stresses and thus may be responsible for the damage to cave paintings in the Mogao Grottoes.